The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has chosen construction as one of five priority sectors to target in its new mental health drive.
The ‘Working Minds’ campaign, which was launched yesterday at the HSE’s Health and Work Conference, aims to help construction businesses recognise the signs, and tackle the root causes, of work-related stress.
It comes in response to statistics revealing that, in 2020, more than 17m working days were lost in the UK due to stress, anxiety, or depression.
Working Minds is aimed specifically at supporting small businesses by providing employers and workers with advice, including simple steps in its ‘5 R’s’ to Reach out, Recognise, Respond, Reflect, and make it Routine.
The HSE said it wanted to remind business that no matter where people work, employers have a legal duty to assess the risks in the workplace, not just in terms of potential hazards and physical safety but that they should also promote good working practices and an “open environment” where employees can share their concerns and discuss options to ease pressures.
HSE has partnered with a number of organisations to highlight the triggers of stress, including the charity Mates in Mind.
Sarah Casemore, managing director at Mates in Mind, said: “The mental health challenge, particularly related around workplace stress is really important to discuss.
“We can only exceed in helping organisations better identify, understand and address the drivers of stresses at work by working together, creating greater consistency and clarity, so we’re very proud to be working alongside the HSE in this campaign.”
Averting a ‘health and safety crisis’
HSE’s chief executive Sarah Albon, said: “Work-related stress and poor mental health should be treated with the same significance as risks of poor physical health and injury.
“In terms of the affect it has on workers, significant and long-term stress can limit performance and impact personal lives.
“No worker should suffer in silence and if we don’t act now to improve workers’ mental health, this could evolve into a health and safety crisis.
“The pandemic has highlighted the need to protect the health of employees who have faced unprecedented challenges; the government is committed to building back better and we want to make sure good mental health is central to this.”
Dane Krambergar, head of workplace wellbeing services at Mind, another campaign partner, added: “This campaign couldn’t have come at a better time, given the impact the pandemic has taken on employers and staff.
We recently surveyed over 40,000 staff working across 114 organisations. Two in five (41%) employees told us their mental health had worsened during the pandemic.”
Image credit: yuttana Contributor Studio/Shutterstock
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